Lao Advancement Organization of America, Inc. (LAOA) was founded in 1988 by a group of Lao parents concerned with the high rate of crime in the Near North side of Minneapolis and the lack of safe, productive, and culturally appropriate neighborhood activities for children and youth outside of school. The organization received 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in 1991 as Lao Parents and Teachers Association (Lao PTA). By the early 1990s, Lao PTA had begun providing afterschool academic support services for Laotian and other Southeast Asian students. In 1999, Lao PTA purchased a building in North Minneapolis called the Lao Cultural Center (LCC). The LCC is disability-accessible and accommodates 120 people.
In 2003, the organization changed its name to Lao Advancement Organization of America, Inc. to reflect its expanded programming that supports a healthy and engaged life for all generations. LAOA primarily serves ethnic Lao families in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area, with most living in Hennepin and Anoka counties. Secondary audiences include ethnic Lao in greater Minnesota and Hmong in North Minneapolis.
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